Under current rules, anyone who works fewer than nine hours per week at the National Living Wage is subject to the Department for Work and Pensions’ intensive work search regime, which means they must attend coaching sessions at job centres, attend job interviews and accept offers of work or risk losing their entitlement to Universal Credit.
Those who work for more than nine hours but still claim Universal Credit fall into the so-called “light touch” regime, meaning they do not have to attend job centres on a regular basis and do not have access to work coaches.
From next week, that threshold will go up to 12 hours, and Mr Kwarteng will announce that from January it will be increased to 15 hours, meaning that anyone earning less than £618 per month will be subject to the more intensive regime. The changes will apply in England, Scotland and Wales.
The proposed changes will affect 120,000 people.
‘People who work extra hours better off’
As part of the scheme, newly-unemployed over-50s will get nine months of targeted sessions with a work coach, and over-50s who have been out of work for a year or more will be given a booster session followed by three months of intensive employment support.
A Treasury spokesman said that people who work extra hours will be better off, as their income will be higher than the Universal Credit payments they would otherwise have relied on. It will also save the taxpayer money because people will be earning money rather than being given handouts.
Anyone working full time at the National Living Wage currently earns around £130 per week more than they would be given in Universal Credit.
Chloe Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, said the new regime would “remove barriers to progression”.